Distance: 23.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,211ft
Woke up slightly more exhausted than my usual. Sleeping in the day before had been nice, but it was back-to-reality day. Had to pack camp and catch a shuttle back to Red Cliff. I hung out with Marna and Mark at Mango's, the bar in Red Cliff. They opened up early for us to stay warm while waiting for the race to start. Unfortunately, it didn't seem like enough down time and the race started sooner than later.
|Quick picture at the start!|
In my head, it was 8 miles of climbing followed by a couple of rolling hills (10 miles in) followed by 2 miles of climbing (12 miles in)... and then all downhill from there (for 11 miles). Oh boy... was I wrong!!!
I arrived to the first aid station at mile 8 in really great spirits. Up until now, we'd been running on a wide dirt road that basically goes from Red Cliff to the top of Vail Pass. It was a little shaded (lots of trees) during the first couple of miles, but then it opened up and we had some awesome views.
|Views opening up on our way to Vail Pass|
|We're in... FOR SURE!|
|TRR was a technical run, but not like this! This was just a short scrambling section! :)|
I literally cried. I was absolutely exhausted... I turned off my iPod, replied to some words of encouragement from my TRR friend Rob with some very cranky words in a very cranky mood... and fell behind. Before I knew it, Marna caught up to me... nicely, she pushed me. Like she ACTUALLY pushed me from the bottom of my hydration pack. It seemed to help, but I knew she was probably as tired as me.. she just happened to be in a less dark place. She eventually moved ahead and I was left behind with my tears.
We reached the top of Chair 4. Which I knew well. I was exhausted, I had cried and I was ready for an all downhill. It took me a little while to regroup (maybe a mile), but from the top (mile 17) to the aid station (mile 21) I was able to run. I stopped at the aid for a couple minutes and had a beverage and some watermelon and continued on... the downhill was fun:
I eventually caught up to Marna, who was now struggling. I stayed with her for a couple minutes and told her we were close (I know that mountain a little too well) and I passed her. I finally came close to the village and saw the finish line. It was a huge relief! I crossed the finish line in 5 hours 49 minutes and 49 seconds for 14th place. This was officially my longest day out on the trails and I was stoked it was over.
|It was great to see Marna finish just 4 minutes behind me. She was getting stronger as I was getting weaker!|
I tried to focus on the fact that despite the last stage being known to be a hard stage, it was still under 20 miles. Unfortunately, when the course briefing began, we learned that the last stage was not 19 miles as published on the guide book, it was more like 22. I was in disbelief and I may have had a tear roll down my cheek. I sat there silently listening, but heartbroken that I still had 22 miles to go. I know, it's not that big a difference, but after 5 long days of running at elevation, 3 miles was a huge difference.
I went to bed slightly bummed out, but tried to focus on the fact that it was almost over. One more day... and then, it'll all be a memory. I wasn't even sure I was emotionally ready for it to be over.
"Dig deep, my friend." Theresa said on her card for Day 5. I don't think I'd ever dug any deeper...
Up Next: TransRockies Run6 - Stage 6